We are back this week with a massive Universal Orlando update, where some amazing new details have been revealed about the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, Gringotts Bank and more.  The look inside will amaze you.

Diagon Alley and Escape from Gringotts

We are just a few weeks away from the opening of this amazing new land, and while people might be focusing on the Magic Kingdom’s Mine Train, Universal Orlando has unveiled more Harry Potter project details and a first look with what the animatronics guests will encounter in the queue for the Escape from Gringotts attraction. Universal has also made sure the height requirement for this ride comes in at 42″ to make this attraction more accessible to younger visitors.

Goblins on Gringotts
The very detailed animatronic
Gringotts Bank Lobby Queue
Gringotts Bank Lobby Queue

Escape from Gringotts Ride Vehicle and Loading area
Escape from Gringotts Ride Vehicle and Loading area
Guest will encounter Bellatrix Strange on their journey into Gringotts
Guest will encounter Bellatrix Lestrange on their journey into Gringotts

When watching the preview of the ride, you learn that guests will come face to face with Voldemort on this new attraction… along with a dragon!

Dragon on the Escape from Gringotts Ride at Universal Orlando
Dragon on the Escape from Gringotts Ride at Universal Orlando

 

Construction Update

As we look at the construction of the London Facade, we see that some of the amazing finishing details are being added to the London area.  The street light poles have been installed, the amazing fountain with angel on top has been installed, the berm is almost complete, and the old Amity bathrooms have received a muted brown paint job that will allow it to blend into the existing area.  The clock is counting down and soon guests will be able to explore this area.

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We’ve been expecting light poles to be installed here, but these are just amazing.

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On the side of the new land, they are obscuring the show buildings with a tree and shrub covered berm.

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We can still see what they are trying to hide here . . . for now.

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With the video and concept art, this ride is going to be groundbreaking on so many different levels.  We can’t wait to experience it when it opens this summer.

Hogwarts Express

Universal also unveiled some video of the Hogwarts Express, where we get our first peek at the London to Hogsmeade and Hogsmeade to London trip that guests will be taking.  From the screenshots we took from the video, it looks like this will be a journey that young and old will enjoy.

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CityWalk

Over in CityWalk all the projects are progressing quickly as they try to get things complete for the big summer crowds.

CowFish

Upstairs at CityWalk, above what will be Vivo is CowFish, guests will enjoy Burger-Sushi fusion cuisine and will be able to enjoy beautiful views.

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Universal Studio Store

The studio store is now enclosed from the elements and it’s main facade is moving forward.

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World Famous Hot Dogs

Next to the Studio Store and Antojitos, World Famous Hot Dogs is getting closer to opening. They are currently building the Jumbotron, over hang, and gazebo.

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Breadbox and Menchies

Breadbox and Menchies are now under wraps as they get built out.

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Did anything spark your interest in this week’s update? What you are looking forward to most this summer in Orlando?

Now, we invite you to listen to the exciting E-Ticket Report.

Direct Download

  • AaroniusPolonius

    Wow. This looks to be an amazing addition to USF. Bravo, Universal elves.

    • Eric Davis

      It is going to be incredible! I can’t wait to experience it this summer!

      • CaptainAction

        Eric, I’m ALMOST as excited for YOU to get your rump into London, Diagon Alley, Knockturn Alley, Gringott’s, Hogwarts Express, Hogsmead update, etc. as YOU are.
        We can’t get out this summer so I’m waiting on your story and photos.
        Take your time. Drag it out. Don’t rush the details.
        Have any idea about the time frame you guys might be let in?
        Thanks for all the great info!

  • mainejeff

    My god……Universal really IS the new Disney! The amount of detail and quality that has gone into the design of these lands and attractions is nothing short of astounding. The Gringotts lobby sets a new standard in queue design….absolutely stunning. Kudos to Comcast for spending the money and hiring some of the best in the business to bring us these new worlds, attractions, and experiences. I’ll be staying at a DVC resort in September…….but most of my time and money will be spent at Universal.

    • Eric Davis

      That is how I feel too! Universal is doing amazing things to earn my money. With all of the new offerings, and Cabana Bay, and the fact that they aren’t done yet! They just keep adding more value to experience.

      • danielz6

        Universal studios will never be complete as long as there is imagination left in the world. Sure feels like it!

    • CaptainAction

      mainjeff, if you consider staying at a Universal resort some time they have very good deals with the AP discount.
      Add the boat ride to the front, early access, skipping lines, etc. We really can afford a much nicer resort at Universal than we could at WDW. We’ve never felt more relaxed at a theme park than when we have that line skipping pass from the hotel in our hand.
      Worth looking into sometime.

  • LoveStallion

    Well this is going to give Disney a hard spanking, and not the kind Disney will like.

    Credit to Universal, but more credit to J.K. Rowling for being the brainchild behind the HP franchise. Remember that she holds lots of reins and has creative oversight over most of this stuff. So while Universal is the implementer and the vehicle, this is really the fantastical world of J.K. Rowling.

    • DLFan1995

      And, just think, Disney COULD have had all that!!!

      • billyjobobb

        No, Disney would have made it a kiddie ride and a few gift shops. They would have cheaped out on it just like they’re cheaping out on their big new “Avatarland” Disney would have never done Potter to this level.

  • tooncity

    Impressive. I can’t wait for the numbers to turn against Disney. I keep thinking about the current comical Disney running about the glories of the MM+ allowing you to spend more time with your family. What a DUD!

    When the number go against Disney in Florida, they’re going to have to spend a Billion fast to get caught up.

    • michael darling

      And then you’ll go? Or will u still be bitter?

      • tooncity

        Sounds like you’re the one who’s bitter. I haven’t insulted anybody.

  • KENfromOC

    We’ll be going to WDW in July, not sure if we will go to Universal as we are upgrading to the Disney Premiere Pass ( we are APs at Disneyland).
    I assume you’ll need a Universal Park hopper pass to get on the Hogswarts train?

    • FarFromHome

      Yeah, you need the Universal Park hopper pass

    • LoonAZ

      We just returned from an Orlando vacation. If you can afford it at all, don’t pass on a visit to USO. This was our second visit to Orlando and each time USO has beat the Disney experience for us. Last year it was just my wife and I. This year we brought my daughters family. They too felt the experience at USO was better than Disney.

      Disney is rapidly losing touch with the theme park enthusiast (IMO). All that money spent on something that was not broken or needed (MDE, FP+, MB’s, etc).

    • armyofrobots

      if you’re an AP at Disneyland, Universal should be your priority. Disneyland/DCA are far superior in terms of quality and overall experience.

      Universal Orlando is very different than its Hollywood sister if you’ve been there.

      Spend your time at Universal and Islands of Adventure. Then get your tickets for your WDW resort stuff after that, specifically Animal Kingdom since you guys really don’t have that in California!

      • tooncity

        I beg to differ. It is well know that Imagineer do a lot of their design research at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. It’s now called SD Zoo’s Safari Park. The park is larger than AK.

        As I have gone to both. SD Zoo’s Safari Park gave me more for a third of the price. Having gone to AK 3 times, I always left thinking “What’s the point?”

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Or better yet, go to Busch Gardens in Tampa and spend a whole, entire day at a zoo-theme-aprk, instead of a mere third at DAK.

  • FarFromHome

    The depth and detail of the Gringots ride really makes me wonder how quickly they were able to complete it. And it makes the Dwarfs coaster look even slower now.

    • LoveStallion

      Bear in mind Universal had to clear out Jaws, but then it had a greenfield. Disney did have to build the Dwarfs Coaster basically on an island surrounded by functioning park. And that also speaks to the fact that the Dwarfs coaster has no facade. The whole thing is in the show space. Gringotts will have a front facade, but just like Forbidden Journey, behind that will just be a building of utility.

      Also, while the Harry Potter stuff is loaded with detail, Universal has embraced digital projections and 3D as the driving force of an experience much more so than Disney has. Screens and lenses are quick to install (not saying it’s easy to make everything work). Disney still likes to spend time on every little detail.

      I don’t think that’s a complete excuse for Disney taking so, so long on the Dwarf ride, but still.

      • BigBobxxx

        How about Universal building the Transformers attraction — completely surrounded by the entire park (not just off to one side, like Disney’s Mine Train) — in less than a year?

      • Alltwelve

        Good point about Mine Train having no facade and having to be seen from all angles.

        And BigBobxxx- isn’t Transformers all inside a building with facades?

      • CaptainAction

        No LoveStallion, you need to walk around Hogsmead, Diagon Alley, London, Knockturn Alley, then ride Forbidden Journey which has several animatronic characters, Gringott’s with animatronics, and the Hogwarts Express both directions.
        Then ride Despicable Me and Transformers.
        Now look at what WDW spent more time doing.
        Then compare them to New Fantasyland, Mermaid, Dumbo 2, and Dwarf Mound (still aint open).
        Yeah, there’s only one word for that comparison for WDW; embarrassing.

      • LoveStallion

        Transformers is a box with facade work and then a bunch of projectors. It’s a great attraction, but it’s not as complex as the Mine Train.

        I’m not big defender of the Dwarfs, but when it comes to the work involved, for all the wonder Universal is doing, they do take the easy way out. Seriously, how many of their rides are projector-based?

  • Erik Olson

    Great report! Is the Gringott attraction another simulator? The vehicles look like they move. Very curious to see more on this!

    As an aside, I don’t think you need to focus on what Walt Disney World is doing as a qualifier every time you give us updates on the explosive growth at Universal? Feeding the malcontents on either side is just so much baiting. Why does every conversation about Universal have to degenerate into comparisons with a competitor’s offerings?

    • BlahBlahson

      The Gringott attraction is a rollercoaster. The track was leaked over a year ago and was taken down by mysterious powers. It has like, 4 or 5 track switches and a few launches.

      And as an aside, keep comparing Universal to Disney, because the sooner it spreads all over the internet how slowly Disney moves, the better.

      • Kenny B

        Don’t believe the internet my friend…….. That video had a pretty extreme attitude with it, and with a 42 inch standard, I dought it is as wild as previously thought,

  • Algernon

    No, Universal is not the new Disney. It’s more like the old Disney–the Disney that used to do fantastic new projects like the 1967 Tomorrowland, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and Small World; or the 1959 Tomorrowland, where they added Matterhorn, Monorail and Submarine Voyage. But who needs stuff like that, when they can have Club 33, and Nemo, the bad cartoon four year olds can go underwater to watch?

    • AaroniusPolonius

      So much THIS^. Yay, Algernon!

      • LoveStallion

        Well put. I have some flowers for you.

  • Ian P

    The angel on top of the fountain is actually a very famous London landmark.
    It is Eros and it can be found at Piccadilly Circus.
    You can read all about it here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piccadilly_Circus

    • jcruise86

      Thanks, Ian!

  • ayalexander

    Wow…universal spends all that money to build ‘better’ rides and they still can’t come up with better CGI that can at least match the CGI in movies? And I’m guessing the ride is gonna take a page from Transformers and have most of the scenes being done on a screen. This is the kind of money-cutting, cheap tricks they have always pulled, just in a different package so you don’t notice it. Most of the escape from gringotts is gonna be movie screens with cheap CGI and a vehicle with motion base. I was really disappointed with Transformers, you could totally tell that your vehicle was not a ‘car’ and the bus bar on the track was clearly visible. At least if Disney did this ride, the on-ride scenes wouldn’t be screens, they would be animatronics and well themed, well textured chambers. For those of you that make negative comments on the Disney Park articles like Dateline Disneyland/World, don’t bother commenting anymore because obviously you don’t know what good quality is if you think this is ‘better’.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      Of course, the irony is that Disney wouldn’t do this ride, or spend this much money to craft this ride in this manner at this point in its history.

      There’s no doubt that Disney COULD deliver a superior variant of Gringotts. It’s entirely a choice by them to NOT deliver a superior variant.

    • Bigben51602

      I agree that Universal can theme a land just as good as Disney but when it comes to rides they seem to cheapen out and go with video screen. Disney is still the benchmark when it comes to animatronics. Whatever you think about the seven dwarfs mine train the animatronics are spectacular. Yeah they have projected faces ala Madam Liota they add so much realism to the experience. The videos I’ve seen of the animatronics for the gringotts goblins look lifeless and creepy and not in a good way. The videos they do project and what we have seen for the The gringotts ride and hogwarts express look like actors on a green screen and given its Universal you think they can do better than that.

      • EC82

        Yeah, Disney’s the benchmark with Finding Nemo projections, Three Caballeros projections, the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Soarin’ (one big projection screen), and all those wonderful meet and greets.

      • Bigben51602

        The one thing about all those attractions that you list EC82 is that disney is not trying to fool you into thinking those are thrill rides.

      • BigBobxxx

        “Disney is still the benchmark when it comes to animatronics.”

        Disco Yeti, anyone?

      • mainejeff

        Will Disney ever fix the Yeti?

      • cruise

        As much as I disagree with most of what you’ve said, you are right about one thing: the animatronics in the Dwarfs Train are fantastic. I staunchly defend Universal, but the animatronics are amazing (which Im going to go out on a limb here and say is indisputable), and the ride IMO is a solid C/D ticket (this ones up for debate.

        That having been said, I find the Gringotts animatronics fantastic and almost indistinguishable from the film characters. Really, I think they look as great as the dwarfs (given one is trying to recreate a person and the other an animated characert).

        Also, can everyone stop hating on the film clips. Let’s at least get a chance to see them in the context for the ride, on the projectors and screens they were designed to be shown on, before dismissing them.

    • Ravjay12

      In some cases, its better to have the CGI to tell the story than animatronics, especially if the action is really fast. I do enjoy the Animatronics in Pirates,Mansion, and Splash because you are moving slow. I’ve been on every ride with animatronics in one form or another, but the ones I enjoy now are the new gen CGI and set. They’re just more exciting! Just my opinion though. I think a lot of people love them too, otherwise they would quit building them. Disney seems to be moving that way too with Mystic Manor and the upcoming Avatar ride.

      • LoveStallion

        Mystic Manor is the best thing they’ve done since DisneySea. If they opened a CA-themed variant at DCA it would be gangbusters. Just imagine that over in Hollywoodland.

      • jcruise86

        Have you ridden Mystic Manor, Love Stallion?

        After the typical love fest that often accompanies new attractions (see Disneyland’s Nemo Subs), the reviews can be less enthusiastic.

      • cruise

        I have not ridden Mystic Manor, but I feel confident saying its close to the best thing Disney has done since TDS. It really is one of the best themed attractions in the world IMO (coming from a huge Universal guy).

        Of course, again, I haven’t ridden it.

    • billyjobobb

      I agree, the special effects on rides like peter pan are so much better. And don’t get me started on the superior technology that Disney used in Pooh……

    • cruise

      Seriously? You’re going to hate on Universal for integrating projections? When Avatar (basically a huge projection) is the the only thing Disney has going for it? When EPCOT’s most popular ride (Soarin’) is one giant screen with NO extra theming (I mean, if you’re gonna talk about seeing the bus bar in Transformers, how about seeing the entire structural steel in Soarin’, of the bur bar of EVERY SINGLE DISNEY DARK RIDE)? When Disney two greatest recent achievements (Mystic Manor and Ratatouille) rely on projections? When both Finding Nemo attractions are film based? Where “animatronics and well themed, well textured chambers” are being replaced by princess meets and greets? Where Disney’s greatest animatronic achievement (the Yeti) hasn’t moved in 7 years (and by the way, that ride ingrates a projection too)? You’re going to claim that the Gringotts goblins look worse than the projected dwarfs? And you’re going to claim all of this without having been on the attraction.

      Now, were it 1995, I might agree with you.

      • Ryan120420

        I love how Disney apologist and uber fanboys criticize Universal for using projections. I bet these same people just LOVE and consider Tower of Terror one of the best Disney rides they have ever created, when 90% of that ride is projection based.

      • ayalexander

        At least the CGI on the Disney projection attractions looks better.

      • cruise

        Looks better than what? Than Transformers? I think that’s pretty good, as well as the new Spiderman update. If you’re talking about the Potter stuff in the vid, let’s remember that we are seeing it here out of context and isolated.

        Also, I can’t think of a Disney projection that doesn’t recreate a cartoon, with the exception of Star Tours. Its always going to be easier to recreate something that was originally animated than trying to create realism. If only things could always look as real as the Naboo sea monsters on Star Tours… amiright???

      • CaptainAction

        ayalexander, your arguements are sad.
        Mission Space, Spaceship Earth, Ellen, I can go on and on.
        You are running low on excuses and you just ran out of another one.
        Best to cut your losses.

      • ayalexander

        You have a good point CaptainAction, because I have to agree those WDW attractions have bad special effects… but look at their time frames, I wouldn’t expect that type of cheap CGI on a 2014 attraction of any kind. but enough of that. I despise WDW. I’m a Disneylander.

      • cruise

        ayalexander…

        Okay so Disneyland…. it’s not like the projection on TLM blew anyones minds… in fact they literally had to go back and change it. And the sea monster on Naboo in Star Tours… are you saying that’s photorealistic?? Is that better than Transformers?

        This is not a unique to Universal issue. You’re also seeing one 2 second clip on this site totally out of context (not on the projector/screen it is meant to be seen on) and forming a judgment off of that.

    • armyofrobots

      uh. Star Tours, Soarin’, Tower of Terror (aside from the fall is all projection based), Sum of All Thrills, MILF, just to name some. Even the animatronics are becoming projector based with characters face.

      I mean…look at Disney if you’re going to wag your finger at anybody.

    • CaptainAction

      You are really running out of ideas for critcism cast member friend.

      Universal imagineers are handing WDW imagineers their rumps.

      WDW imagineers big project for 2014 were Easter Eggs at Epcot…whew!

      Tough to be a Bug, Soarin’, Rockin’ Roller, Haunted Mansion, Muppet Movie, Avatar, Finding Nemo, Laugh Floor, Dinosaur, Test Track, Mission Space, Ellen’s Energy, Little Mermaid at DS, Sound effect Show at DS, Spaceship Earth, China, Canada, France, American Adventure, Hall of Presidents, etc, etc,etc, etc – ALL HAVE SCREENS with MOVIES!

      Running out of ideas and I just took another one away.

      Now what to say about Diagon Alley Land?

  • jcruise86

    The growing Wizarding World of Harry Potter is why we will fly to Orlando next year after many years away. Since we’ll be there we’ll also spend time visiting all 4 of the Disney theme parks, including the three that are now fittingly discounted for one-day passes. (They are priced less than the MK which contains an Anaheim number of attractions.) And after visiting I will hopefully apologize for writing snotty sentences like the preceding ones. 🙂

    But seriously, Universal, thank you!

    Please make the Wizarding World in California interestingly different so we can get really excited about that too.

    • jcruise86

      Than again, this is the company that gave us that mediocre Mummy ride. Maybe we wait for the reviews of people who’ve ridden this attraction before we congratulate Universal.

      • cruise

        I agree, I fear Mummy mediocrity. Though the fact that its Potter gives me more faith that they won’t screw this up.

  • Irving

    Well, from my point of view WWoHP didn’t dissapointed, they only raised their own bar. Certainly Transformers used an “old” technology, but given the envolvment of J.K. Rowlings on this development and what they do at IOA with Harry Potter, I really expect this to be a great addition.

    Also, no matter if Disney or Universal are better now, Uni is doing some of the thigs that Disney made at the past, but the winners are us. If Diagon Alley succeds, it will only force Disey to rethink how they are investing in Orlando, and perhaps give us that “touch of magic” they used to had.

    IMHO, if I had just one day at Orlando this summer, I will prefer, despite I love Disney, spend it at Diagon Alley, and not at the Dwafs ride.

  • superlarz

    I didn’t like transformers at all… Huge let down after reading how it was the next big thing. This has tempered my excitement for The Forbidden Journey and Gringotts. That being said, the WWoHP looks amazing as does Diagon Alley. I hope they have as much substance as they do style. I also think the Mine train looks pretty cool, much better than people give it credit for. I don’t get all of the hate. Last time I was in Florida they were just starting to build WWoHP and very much enjoyed IoA. That didn’t detract from my enjoyment of MK and the rest of WDW. Living on the West coast now, I wish Universal was even worth going to, but the reality is that isn’t is a half day Park and doesn’t have anything worth going back for to me (City Walk and Halloween Horror Nights are excellent. ) I cam only hope Harry Potter turns USH into a destination park and competition for Disneyland.

  • Big D

    Well, I can only speak for myself regarding the Uni vs. Disney comparison, but I have an oppertunity to go to Universal Orlando late Sept to check this out, and I could add a few days and go to WDW, but truthfully, I can’t think of a really good reason to spend the extra money. I’m dying to see HP at Universal, I could care less about anything new at WDW since Expedition Everest.

    • CaptainAction

      Yes, because there just hasn’t been much new since Everest at WDW except stores, restaurants, and princess meet n greets. Yawn. The Yeti is still broke (year 6).
      Last E Ticket at MK was 1992 Splash Mountain. Sad.
      But prices are up.

    • BlahBlahson

      MK is well worth visiting, since they have actually added stuff. BOG is a really unique and interesting experience, Enchanted Tales with Belle has some neat effects, and Seven Dwarves is both a new coaster and has really cool dwarves. Go to Not So Scary, see the great fireworks, load up on candy, and have fun with short wait times.

  • rodc

    In the late 50’s, WED (now WDI) had no peer in design or technology, as evidenced by the hugely successful and forward-thinking Tomorrowland expansion at Disneyland. Here in the 2010’s, nothing has changed. WDI still has no peer. Unfortunately, we here in the US are unable to see this without getting on an airplane. Disney is a worldwide company, and they have decided that it is most profitable for them to focus their technology money on Asia, as this is where the growth is. A new E-ticket ride or two in Florida simply isn’t going to increase the attendance at WDW enough to make it worth doing more often than every ten years or so. Universal can significantly increase their business by adding some rides, so they are doing so. And since they are a movie production company, they are playing to their strengths by using movies in most (all?) of their best rides (Spiderman, King Kong 3D, Transformers, Harry Potter 1 & 2, Hogwarts Express, Simpsons, etc.)

    WDI, on the other hand, is simply more creative. As evidence of WDI’s unmatched abilities, I suggest a trip to Tokyo DisneySea, still the best theme park in the world in all ways (design quality, ride quality, and entertainment quality), or ride Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland.

    Disney is spending over $2 billion creating a number of soon-to-be-classic new rides (including an entire pirate-themed land, Treasure Cove, with a motion-base enhanced Pirates of the Caribbean ride (based on the movie, not the Disneyland ride). Unfortunately for us, these new E-tickets will be located in the second-largest theme park in the world (after WDW), the Shanghai Disney Resort. So when you add Disney’s spending in Shanghai to the California Adventure expansion, new Fantasyland expansion, WDW hotel upgrades, FastPass+, the announced Animal Kingdom updates, Ratatouille and Toon Studio updates in Paris, and Marvel Land in Hong Kong, Disney will have spent almost $6 billion over five years on their theme parks. But you’ll need a few long plane rides to appreciate most of it.

    (Check out http://bit.ly/1lbJOVd to see some of what’s been happening at WDI lately.)

    • AaroniusPolonius

      To be fair, the Japanese and Chinese markets are vastly different.

      Japan is in the midst of a vast population decline as their society ages, so the Oriental Land Company doesn’t exactly have massive long term incentive to build superior WDI attractions. They CHOOSE to because the Japanese market demands that level of “Disney” in their Disney parks.

      China is a whole other matter, where Disney attempted a half-day park with Hong Kong Disneyland, which the market soundly rejected. Now, they’re rolling out all the stops because they need to establish that long-term quality connection with the Chinese consumer.

      Having said that, we’ll be getting some of the tech from these rides going in to Asian parks, as that’s a way to monetize the cost (Castle boat ride=Avatar boat ride and so on. Just as the Iron Man ride in HKDL is using Star Tours II tech.)

      Honestly, though. The only way to get it sooner is to vote with your wallet.

      • Park Hopper

        I used to think that we would see some of the tech developed for Asian parks here in the US. They opened Pooh’s Honey Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland in 2000. 14 years later, there’s still no sign of a ride using the trackless system going into any of the US parks.

        I think Disney is really taking it’s American guests for granted. Hopefully Universal will get good enough that Disney will be forced to change that perspective.

    • cruise

      I’m missing where WDI is more creative? Is Port of Entry less creative than Mystic Point? Are are you faulting a company whose slogan is “Ride the Movies” for making theme parks attractions about movies? Is Forbidden Journey (winner of 3 Golden Ticket Awards) not on par with any Disney attraction? What about Spiderman (winner of 12 Golden Ticket Awards)? How can Universal not be a peer of Disney after building attractions like those? I’m not at all downplaying the amazing quality of Disney displayed in Mystic Manor or Tokyo Disney Sea (best theme park in the world, IMO), but it sounds to me like you are downplaying Universal in a huge way. And remember, the same people that gave us TDS gave us DCA 1.0, both about the same time IOA opened. (I also find your statement about Disney having no peer laughable given that many in Universal Creative work there because they left Disney!).

      And if the thesis of your argument is “Disney is doing great things, but not in the US, and it is justified by a financial cost/benefit analysis,” then shouldn’t we react? And shouldn’t we, in order to make it more financially appealing to Disney to invest in new stateside unique quality attractions, give our money to a company who is doing just that? I don’t know about you, but I’m not satisfied with “Disney won’t build new quality E-tickets in the US, and we have to be content with that because they have a reason.”

      No one is doubting that Disney has the ability to build great attractions (Mystic Manor), but the fact is that they aren’t doing it in the US, and Universal is.

    • Kenny B

      Yeah, nobody’s talking worldwide(asia) Disney vs. Universal Florida………..

    • CaptainAction

      Yeah, now we gotta go to Asia to make our defense of Disney execs…nah, that dog don’t hunt.

      • Cory Gross

        Actually, Disney already won the fight, exactly because you’re spending all your time nipping at it’s heels. Disney is still setting the pace, you’re just trying to keep up.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        …and actually, looking to Asia to find Disney creating “Disney” quality entirely deflates the Disney defense. Shouldn’t one be, at the very least, a little miffed that all the good stuff is going to Asia when you, as a theme park customer, are spending money on Disney in America?

        And mind you, the Disney parks in Florida aren’t these quaint little hick parks not grabbing corporate attention or consumer money.

        MK is the most visited park in the world. The WORLD!!!!
        I believe Epcot, DHS and DAK are 7, 8 and 9 on the world list and 3, 4 and 5 on the US list.

        So it’s really us, the consumer, who are enabling Disney to not “Disney” up the parks in Florida because we keep going, and they keep printing money. The best thing that happened to DCA was consumer rejection. WDW could use a little of that sauce.

    • Jabroniville

      That’s a good point- Disney IS doing crazy new stuff… but not really showing it here. And really, what’s the point of adding MORE E-Tickets to what is already the most-visited Theme Park on Earth? Do they want to make it MORE crowded for people? Nearly everyone I know who goes to WDW complains about massive line-ups being all they do all day long (granted, they never pick the “smart” times to go). Disney is probably much more willing to rest on it’s laurels there and not rock the boat. And they HAVE been adding new stuff, but it’s more neat & cute things than the show-stoppers at Universal. And keep in mind the Princess Meet & Greets have lines in excess of pretty much ANYTHING at Universal, especially with the Frozen Girls there- they basically added an E-Ticket (in terms of popularity) on the cheap, just by training some girls to act like cartoon characters.

      Though I’m not crazy about Avatarland, or the huge amount of projector-based rides in EVERY park these days. I can get WHY Disney isn’t building new E-tickets constantly, though I wish they would.

  • michael darling

    Why? Why are so many of you on MiceAge? It boggles my mind. Go to the Uni boards and froth at the mouth. Why continually bash Disney on a Disney board? You come across as so angry and bitter at WDW. IT’S A FREAKIN AMUSEMENT PARK, for crying out loud. Let people go where they want. Why do you constantly and DAILY feel the need to ‘open our eyes’ and celebrate the fall of Disney at the feet of Universal? It’s quite tiring.

    • cruise

      We’re on MiceAge because we love theme parks? I don’t know where you’ve been, but this place provides pretty comprehensive coverage. And in case you hadn’t noticed, this isn’t a Disney update, this is a Universal page (and, you know, stop bashing Universal on a Universal post)! So maybe you should hightail it over to a Disney update and post your thoughts there.

      This is the problem with posts like yours, and a lot of the people on these boards. It isn’t primarily about Disney vs. Universal, most of us genuinely love theme parks in general, and just feel Universal is doing it better right now (not indefinitely and for all time). The problem comes in where the staunch Disney supporters criticize Universal for attractions that, if built in a Disney park, would be given praise. Would Gringotts and this update really get any criticism from any Disney supporters if it were built in WDW? NO!

      I don’t think most are celebrating the fall of Disney, I think we’re lamenting it. I’d say 90% of the Universal enthusiasts here fell in love with theme parks BECAUSE of Disney. I’m just not satisfied with mediocrity and I certainly disagree with those who defend it.

      I’m certainly happy to let people “go where they want,” but in my assessment, most of the bad blood between these two “sides” here comes from an almost immediate dismissal of anything Universal does.

      I think the Dwarfs Mine Ride is a great C/D ticket addition to WDW, but Potter is WAY more exciting and grand. It doesn’t have to be an either or.

      • Park Hopper

        I agree 100%!

    • danielz6

      If it’s tiring then don’t view the comments. Disney parks blog is full of censored pro Disney commentary if that’s what you want.

    • Cory Gross

      Because it is VERY IMPORTANT for them to let us know that they disapprove of the things we like. It wouldn’t do to forth at a Universal fan site because they wouldn’t be able to forth AT us. That’s the point of it.

      • cruise

        No one disapproves of what you like! We’re just saying Universal is doing it better currently! Your quote on the previous page “Disney has already won” posted on a Universal update really makes it seem like you are the one who feels it is VERY IMPORTANT that everyone know Universal is playing second fiddle, wouldn’t you say?

        Gawsh.

        Also, can we stop calling Miceage solely a Disney fan site? The frequency of their updates on things not Disney really makes it a theme park site, IMO.

      • cruise

        No one disapproves of what you like! We’re just saying Universal is doing it better currently! Your quote on the previous page “Disney has already won” posted on a Universal update really makes it seem like you are the one who feels it is VERY IMPORTANT that everyone know Universal is playing second fiddle, wouldn’t you say? Also, that’s exactly the kind of dismissive attitude that contributes to the problem that I discussed above.

        Gawsh.

        Also, can we stop calling Miceage solely a Disney fan site? The frequency of their updates on things not Disney really makes it a theme park site, IMO.

      • Cory Gross

        Cruise, yes they do disapprove, and they make it personal. It’s not enough that they like Universal and we like Disney. It’s that we’re WRONG for liking Disney… We have some kind of character flaw, we’re blind, we’re “stuck in the past,” we’re “extreme brand loyalists,” we’re dumb idiot sheep, we’re enablers, because we happen to like what Disney is doing. We don’t even necessarily have to dislike Universal (FYI, I read this because I am interested in the Harry Potter stuff), it’s bad enough that we still like Disney. You’re not allowed to like both. It’s gotta’ be a contest and they have to win it. They can’t leave it alone. I’ve met religious fanatics who were less obsessed with converting people than Universal fans are.

      • CaptainAction

        Cory, you always ignore this. I’ve written it to you several times.
        We don’t hate Disney. Most of us are upset with WDW leadership for the last 10-12 years. In our opinion, they’ve been greedy, lazy, and motivated only by each years bonus.
        The reason many folks are telling folks to try and wake up and quit acting like WDW hasn’t changed for the worse in the last 10 years.
        The more folks that hold back their money, or support their competition, the sooner we get better leadership at WDW.
        That’s why folks use the word enabler.
        Honestly, there is no way to compare how much Universal Florida is doing for the guests, to earn their money vs. WDW in the last 10 years.
        I know you hate Universal Florida and I know you’ve never been to Universal Florida.
        You may be too invested to be able to admit, in September, that you and your wife may like a few things at Universal when you go.
        You can stop saying everyone hates Disney now.

      • Cory Gross

        Cap, and you keep ignoring everything I’ve said…

        1) If you say you love your wife but only ever complain about her and badmouth her to anyone who will listen (and most people who won’t), that’s not love.

        2) The rest of us who still do love and enjoy Disney are not brainless sheep who need you to “wake us up.” We are conscious, conscientious consumers who are interested in the product Disney is selling. Maybe YOU don’t like it anymore, but that doesn’t mean you have to personally insult US. Like, really, MUST you call us names?

        3) You treat it like this is some kind of political debate when, really, it’s just people getting tired of you bashing things they like all the time. And not just the things they like, but them, as people, for liking them.

        4) I’m the one who has been saying that it’s not a contest and you can like both. I don’t hate Universal. I hope I DO enjoy Universal. I BETTER enjoy Universal for what I’m spending to go. I just don’t like Universal AS MUCH and because of my experience at USH, I don’t expect AS MUCH from them. Stop projecting.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        You say potato, I say enabler!
        You say enabler, I say Big Meanie!

        Potato! Enabler!
        Enabler! Big Meanie!

        Let’s call the whole thing off!

        Seriously. That’s a nut you’ll never crack.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      For the record:
      A brilliant critique of the laziness of WDW.
      From MiceAge. Not a blind fandom Disney site is this.

      http://micechat.com/36201-throwing-in-the-towel/

      Direct quote from MiceAge, which could have been written by anyone on this thread:

      “Repackaging what’s there can no longer succeed in the face of real competition. Disney needs to regain that fire that stems from their inferiority complex. They need to know they’re not the best in the business of themed entertainment anymore.”

      Cheers!

  • BlahBlahson

    The argument that Disney is doing just as much as Universal, it’s just not in Orlando…

    Is completely VALID. The new ratatouille ride/Mystic Manor/the level of quality all the way around in Tokyo, DCA Remake, New Fantasyland, FREAKING Shanghai, Fantasmic TDS and Disney Dreams Paris…amazing. No complaints. Phenomenal stuff I’d love to see one day. There’s a ton of blindness about this. Disney as a company is doing incredible and treating each of their parks in a business appropriate manner.

    However, it’s also completely valid to be annoyed with the state of progress in Orlando for reasons discussed ad nauseum. For supposedly being the industry leader, Jack is actually happening to improve DHS or Epcot or the Waterparks, and the progress at DAK and MK has been SLOOOWWW when compared to Europa Park, Phantasialand, Efteling, Heide Park, Liseberg, Port Aventura, Alton Towers, USJ/USS, Lotte World, Ocean Park, Happy Valley, Other Merlin Attractions, Schlitterbahn, Dollywood, Cedar Point, Canada’s Wonderland, Hershey Park, Knoebel’s, Holiday World, even some freaking Six Flags parks, and locally and most intriguingly, Universal Orlando, Seaworld Entertainment and EVEN FUN SPOT USA.

    I don’t know what the future holds, but it’s really hard not to feel like the present at WDW is undercapitalized. It’s entertainment, we demand new and fresh more than in any other industry.

    • Park Hopper

      I don’t agree that Disney is treating its parks in a business appropriate manner. And apparently neither do you, since you think WDW is under capitalized.

      I think they’re spending way too much money on My Magic +. The original price tag was bad enough, and now that the early numbers are reportedly not giving them the results they expected, they’ve canceled just about all North American new attractions.

      That’s the opposite of what they should have done. They should have canceled the failing My Magic + and thrown all their money into new attractions. Unless they start using hypnotism, people aren’t going to change their spending habits so easily.

      Now, I’m watching television commercials telling me I should visit WDW because I can now use a wrist band instead of a ticket…. really…? really…?

      Then I see a Universal ad saying I should visit Universal because they have an awesome new land based on one of the world’s most popular film series, with a new ride using ground breaking technology–an experience never before available.

      Let me think…. Where should I go?

      • CaptainAction

        That’s a pretty well thought out argument.

        I saw that commercial with the band…it made a light turn green! I’m there, and you say it’s only $100/day-how cool!

        See, everybody keeps thinking of this from a historic point of view but WDW has never done SO LITTLE in a 12 year span as what we have just experienced.
        This is a new floor which the WDW execs are trying out.
        The numbers from 2009-2013 for WDW, in terms of attendance were not good. Growth of NEGATIVE, FLAT, or 2% is not good.

        Now they are milking more $’s out of each guest but that just makes the guests more discerning.
        At over $100/person/day guests are starting to really examine what they are getting. If it’s starting to look like they are paying out the nose for the same vacation the family had in 2002 – well, that doesn’t feel good.
        Over time, this is what worries the “WDW Can Do No Wrong” folks.

        The tip of the iceberg has only just become visible at WDW.

        Universal just grew 39% and that didn’t measure anything but Hogsmeade and Forbidden Journey.
        While WDW has been testing a new floor for 10 years, Universal just began testing a new ceiling of how much they can attract new guests with.

        Could be a perfect storm.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Regarding the business appropriate manner, I’m sort of inclined to agree with you, BlahBlahson, but it doesn’t make it better for theme park fans (and Disney World fans, for that matter.)

        Theme parks, and particularly American theme parks, are Disney’s most stable business. Outside of a major downturn in the travel industry (such as post-9/11,) the Disney Parks & Resorts division generally just churns along making money, and especially in the United States.

        (Notably, even Disneyland Paris makes money and would be profitable, without the overbuild of hotels at that property. And should they get DSP off the ground and change the travel pattern there, those hotels might very well become profitable as well.)

        WDW, in particular, is Disney’s cash cow. Not only does the resort host the most visited theme park on the planet (MK,) but the resort has successfully created a business paradigm where a massive chunk of their guests are long-term, exclusive Disney property guests and spenders.

        This cash cow is basically funding or helping to fund theme park expansions elsewhere, or the purchase of other franchises and businesses by Disney. And that’s fine and correct as a business model: why not use your successful business to shore up struggling business or expand the overall business? That’s correct.

        …except that its been a long time now, where WDW has basically been printing money for the Disney company, and not really investing in their cash cow. It’s been basically since WDW trotted out some attractions and DAK to combat the non-threat that IOA turned out to be more than a decade ago.

        A lot of this has to do with WDW never going through a public shaming like the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim did with the opening of DCA.

        WDW opens up a third-of-a-day animal park? People still come.

        Half of Epcot turns into a dead mall? People still come.

        DHS basically stalls out for the decade between Motors and Toy Story? People still come.

        MK allows entire sections of its signature park, the most visited park in the world, to calcify and fall into irrelevance? People still come.

        I’m uncertain if that day of reckoning is now.

        After all, the theme park market and Disney itself expected that day of reckoning to come with the opening of IOA. Cap’s figures aside, Disney grew by 2% from a loooooooot of people and Universal grew by 39% from as nooooooooooooot a lot of people (some years 1-2 million less than SeaWorld.)

        So, at the very least, up until now, Disney’s visitation patterns have been stable without investment. Indeed, Disney clearly expects even more visitors to MK at least, considering the hub project. Will Harry Potter 2.0 change that dynamic?

        I hope so, if only because it will force Disney to invest in their signature park and the massive integrated resort surrounding it.

        I understand the current business reasoning why they don’t, and we, as park guests are part of that problem, because we keep rewarding the company financially even as they don’t reward us with “Disney” level stuff to do.

  • Jmullen23

    So I think it’s awesome what Universal is doing with their property! I’m very excited for these new additions to the park. I was there a few weeks ago and things looked amazing.

    Now, about all the Universal/Disney fighting, they both have their pluses, but nothing beats that feeling I get when walking into the esplanade at Disneyland or through any Disney park at night. I don’t think universal will ever be able to match that, regardless of how much money they pump into attractions.

    Also, I wish Universal would spend some money on higher quality shows. Their rides are awesome, but Sinbad, the parade and even the Cinematic Spectacular were just okay! Didn’t blow me away like Remember…Dreams Come True or Believe or World of Color.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      JMullen23, I’ll agree with that. Disney owns ambiance and shows. But, to be fair, Universal is certainly learning.

      I never thought that they’d have churned over as much of the original park in Florida as they have into more distinct “lands” and “blocks,” like Springfield. They still have a ways to go (can anyone explain why a new build like Transformers wasn’t placed in World Expo as a sci-fi ride? Or, for that matter, Terminator) but they’re getting there. I suspect that in a few years, when the trees fill in along the lakefront by Diagon Alley, that area of the park will look simply stunning.

      Regarding the shows, parades and night spectacles, I sort of agree, but I also think that Disney has an over-reliance on them. If Universal’s weakness is an emphasis on big, E-Ticket attractions and they could use some smaller stuff, some parades, shows and spectacles to fill out the day, then Disney’s most certainly is a dearth of new, invigorating E-Tickets with a wealth of “shows” to choose from.

  • DisneyHokie

    Have to get on on the projections argument, just because it’s fun. Projections at Universal:
    Spider-Man, Forbidden Journey, Poseidon’s Fury,
    Despicable Me, Twister, Transformers, Mummy, Simpsons, and Men in Black. Plus Gringott’s will have projections and Hogwart’s Express will basically be a traveling theater. I’m not including film attractions because that’s just being asinine. That’s a large chunk of their big rides, especially at USF, especially considering their newest and “greatest” attractions all feature, sometimes heavily, projections.
    Both UO and WDW use projections to help tell the story. With films and simulators, that can’t be helped. I haven’t seen the Mine Train animatronics yet but they sound similar to Radiator Springs Racers, and I don’t hear anyone complaining about those animatronics.
    The bitterness displayed on these boards is sad. It’s like discussing politics or religion, just don’t do it. You’re not going to convince the “other side” that they’re wrong. Just enjoy the park(s) you like and don’t go to the ones you don’t. That way everyone’s wait times will be less!